Sunni party attacked




 
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Sunni party attacked
 
October 14th, 2005  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Sunni party attacked


Sunni party attacked
Sunni party that dropped opposition to Iraqi constitution attacked in
Baghdad

By THOMAS WAGNER
BAGHDAD, Iraq - (AP) Insurgents determined to derail this
weekend's historic referendum bombed an office of Iraq's largest Sunni Arab
political party on Friday, police said, after the group dropped its
opposition to the draft constitution.
No one was wounded by the roadside bomb outside the Iraqi Islamic
Party office in Fadhal, a district of central Baghdad. But the rare attack
against the group by Sunni-led insurgents appeared aimed at punishing it for
deciding to end its "no" campaign against the referendum after lawmakers
agreed Wednesday night to several amendments to the constitution designed to
win Sunni support in Saturday's vote.
On Thursday, Iraqi Islamic Party banners urging a "no" vote had been
removed from where they hung near monuments such as the capital's main Grand
Imam mosque.
"This attack by insurgents against the Islamic Party was expected
because of its new stand toward the referendum," Iraqi army Maj. Salman
Abdul Yahid said in an interview. "Insurgents had threatened to attack the
group and its leaders to get revenge."
Many other Sunni Arab parties still oppose the charter. They fear it
would divide Iraq into three separate districts: powerful mini-states of
Kurds in the north and majority Shiites in the south, both capitalizing on
Iraq's oil wealth. By contrast, many Sunnis fear, their minority would be
left isolated in central and western Iraq with a weak central government in
Baghdad.
On Wednesday night, the National Assembly endorsed last-minute
changes to the draft constitution worked out by Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni
powerbrokers that will allow a new parliament scheduled to be elected in
December to adopts amendments to the constitution.
The draft constitution now being considered by voters is expected to
pass on Saturday. It requires a majority, and it will be adopted unless
two-thirds of voters in three provinces vote "no." Sunnis only have a
majority in four of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Friday's roadside bomb attack against the Iraqi Islamic Party came
as coalition forces closed Iraq's borders and its international airport in
Baghdad in another effort to improve security to protect voters. On
Thursday, a new 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was imposed, and a four-day holiday
started across the country, closing government offices and schools.
All civilian vehicles will be banned on Saturday as Iraqis are
expected to walk by the thousands to 6,100 polling centers in Iraq.
The referendum is an important step in the Bush administration's
efforts to one day withdraw the tens of thousands of U.S. forces from Iraq
after establishing a stable and democratic government that is strong enough
to fight the country's deadly insurgent groups.
Coalition forces have warned of a spike in attacks by the militants
ahead of Saturday's vote, and nearly 450 people have been killed in violence
over the past 19 days, often by insurgents using suicide car bombs, roadside
bombs and drive-by shootings. Many other Iraqis have been kidnapped and
killed, with their bodies abandoned in remote areas.
Hundreds of Iraqi police and army troops have fanned out across
Baghdad, setting up checkpoints and fortifying polling stations with barbed
wire and blast barriers.
An eerie calm has settled over Baghdad and other cities, with little
traffic on the streets, few pedestrians and many shops closed.
In Shiite areas of Baghdad, hundreds of posters and banners urging a
"yes" vote were plastered on many walls and shop windows. Iraq's top Shiite
cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has ordered his followers to approve
the constitution.
But few such posters hung in mostly Sunni districts of the city.
In the so-called Triangle of Death, a mainly Sunni area south of
Baghdad that is known for kidnappings and killings, there was no sign of
posters either. On Thursday, Iraqi troops searched cars under the watchful
eyes of comrades manning machine-gun positions. U.S. helicopters hovered
over the area. Traffic on the road through the "triangle" was thin.
"I will vote 'yes' so as to isolate the troublemakers," said Faisal
Galab, a Sunni Arab sheik from the town of Youssifiyah, about 12 miles (19
kilometers) south of Baghdad. "I have asked my family and clan to vote
'yes.'"
In Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch provided an
upbeat assessment of the security situation ahead of the vote, arguing that
the insurgent danger was far less than on the eve of the Jan. 30
parliamentary election. Also, Iraq's security forces total 200,000 now,
compared to 138,000 in January, Lynch said.
But he still expects a referendum spike in attacks.
"The insurgents have declared war on democracy and they're going to
conduct horrific acts of violence," he said.